In 1949, President Harry Truman established the General Services Administration to improve the federal government’s purchasing and administrative processes. Since the late 1940s, GSA has developed significantly and is now the only source in the United States entirely dedicated to procuring products and services for the federal government.
Government contracting gets regarded frequently as a business’ cornerstone, a trusted associate with an unending supply and financial support source. GSA Schedules are one of the most widely used contracting drivers by federal, state, and local government entities to procure products and services from a wide range of businesses.
Everything one might need to know about the GSA Schedule gets covered in this article.
What is the General Services Administration?
The United States government’s General Services Administration or GSA is an autonomous body that assists in managing and supporting federal agencies’ basic operations. GSA offers products and services for government offices in the United States, transportation, and office space for federal employees and creates cost-cutting strategies and other management activities for the entire government.
A wide variety of products and services are available from GSA to assist federal agencies in serving the general public. The Schedules program allows for faster lead times and greater transparency for government and commercial contractors. The Federal Acquisition Service or FAS ensures that the government’s products and services are of the highest quality and that the taxpayers’ money gets used wisely. Each year, the Schedules program earns almost $33 billion.
Depending on the items or services the vendor wishes to offer the government, a proposal that complies with the applicable GSA solicitation must be filed for a GSA Multiple Award Schedule or MAS contract. Companies can apply to the GSA Schedules at any time, enabling them to enter the federal market once they are ready.
What are the Schedule Policy and Procedures?
Two primary controlling regulatory papers, FAR and GSAM, guide the GSA MAS program.
Federal Acquisition Regulation
The fundamental rules and regulations governing the federal purchase process get contained in the Federal Acquisition Regulation. It guarantees that purchasing methods are uniform and comprehensive across GSA contractors so that despite the disparities in large categories, there is a common referral document. The Federal Acquisition Regulation gets mentioned in many GSA contract clauses and provisions.
Priorities for Use of Mandatory Sources or FAR 8.002 establishes a procurement plan that federal agencies must follow when procuring commodities or services. This plan is important for GSA Schedule holders since it states that if a purchase can go through a Federal Supply Schedule, like the Multiple Award Schedule Program, it must get accomplished before agencies look for other market suppliers to make the purchase.
General Services Acquisition Manual
The GSAM is a set of guidelines for the purchase of general services. This manual gives an overview of the objective of GSA and definitions of important phrases and concepts that commonly get used in the field. Plus, it provides a plan for rivalry and acquisitions. While the FAR gets utilized for all federal procurement, the GSAM is only applicable to GSA contractors.
Moreover, it will answer almost any question regarding the GSA, including the types of social programs and contracts available to contractors. It is not a light lesson, but it will save a lot of time in the long term.
Who are the Buyers?
The federal contracting market is vast, with chances to sell to a wide range of federal agencies and groups, both within and outside the government. Therefore, who buys through a GSA-approved schedule?
There are seven main buyers listed below:
- Civilian and military agencies of the federal government
- Civilian and military agencies of the federal government
- Approved non-profit organizations
- Government corporations with mixed ownership
- Certain products from the state, local, and tribal governments
- Specific items for educational institutions
- Contractors with FAR 51 authorization
Listed below are the benefits that the government receives when one buys through GSA Schedules:
- FAR compliance
- Compliance with the Competition in Contracting Act
- Negotiated contract ceiling price increases with potential discounts on each order
- Less need for contract administration
- Small businesses and other socioeconomic groups receive socioeconomic credit.
- Access to small enterprises that help people achieve certain socio-economic objectives
- Contractors with proven track records, as well as service skills and supplies that have been pre-approved
Who are the Sellers?
The people are the sellers. Sellers primarily get made up of small businesses that specialize in a particular set of products or services, divided into 12 main categories. These 12 main categories encompass a wide range of products and services that sellers can fall within including a miscellaneous category:
- Office Management
- Furniture and Furnishing
- Human Capital
- Industrial Products and Services
- Information Technology
- Professional Services
- Scientific Management and Solutions
- Security and Protection
- Transportation and Logistics Services
Sellers in the Schedule marketplace, like the federal government, get a lot of advantages. Here are just a few of the main benefits for sellers in the GSA marketplace:
- Pre-approval and certifications from a reputable source, proving a company’s capacity to deliver on time and within budget.
- Pre-negotiated pricing makes it easier to determine bids and proposals.
- There is less competition. However, there are a lot of rivalries and a tight market.
- Contracting professionals use schedules to conduct market research, which is another way to sell.
- One can have more chances to get their name and products in front of federal purchasers, which will lead to more prospects.
- Federal buyers must allocate a specified percentage of contracts and awards to specific socioeconomic categories. Being a certified small business like Women-Owned Small Business or WOSB, a Veteran Owned Small Business or VOSB, 8a Small Business, or a HUBZone Small Business can help stand out from the crowd.
- Contracts can last up to 20 years if all options for renewal are fulfilled.
The GSA Schedules initiative is a government-wide contracting program that may help any company expand its reach. Although acquiring the GSA Schedule requires great effort, the numerous advantages make it well worth it.